King County Renters’ Commission to be created

November 13th, 2019 at 2:24 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | No Comments »

The announcement is from the King County Council:

King County renters will soon have a stronger voice with elected leaders and county departments. The King County Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance to establish a King County Renters’ Commission.

“As inequality grows in this region, it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure that renters’ rights are protected, and their voices are elevated,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, who was the prime sponsor of the ordinance. “The King County Renters’ Commission gives renters the vehicle to strengthen their role in unifying their voices to create and advocate for policies that will benefit renters, especially those in the unincorporated areas of King County.”

The ordinance will set up a seven-member Renters’ Commission that would advise the council and the executive on issues and policies impacting renters in unincorporated King County. Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Jeanne Kohl-Welles sponsored the measure as part of a suite of legislation to bolster tenant protections and improve access to affordable housing, primarily in unincorporated areas of King County.

With nearly half of all households in King County renting their homes, rental issues are top of mind for many of the county’s 2 million residents. Additionally, 72% of African American households are renters, compared to 38% of white households, and renter households have significantly lower median household income than homeowners in King County.

“This commission will bring a much-needed fresh perspective to our policy making decisions regarding tenants’ rights and regulations that impact renters,” Kohl-Welles said. “As we move forward as a government and representative body of the people of this County, it is imperative that we continue to bring new voices to the table – especially those voices that have traditionally been left out of the process.”

The seven appointed members will represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives including historically underrepresented groups.

Similar to the City of Seattle’s renters’ commission, established in 2017, the county Renters’ Commission will monitor enforcement of existing laws, look for opportunities to strengthen and improve those laws or advise creation of new ones. The group will also develop an annual report that includes recommendations on improving affordability with a focus on unincorporated parts of the county.

The council recently approved legislation that would create a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center. A committee is still considering other actions that would clarify county code on when and how landlords can evict tenants as well as set up a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center.

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Housing opportunities, crime & safety @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting

November 13th, 2019 at 1:06 am Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

Improving housing opportunities and increasing awareness of local crime issues were key topics last Thursday night at the November meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) at the North Highline Fire Station.

As mentioned in our preview of the meeting, special guests were Helen Howell and Dan Watson from King County Housing Authority and Major Jesse Anderson who leads Precinct 4 (southwest King County) from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Howell and Watson provided an overview of the Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) program, which is a joint “housing mobility” project between Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority. The program is offered to eligible families from the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist, and aims to support families struggling with poverty to help them move to “opportunity neighborhoods.” According the CMTO website:

Innovative research shows that where people live matters, especially for young children. Kids who grow up in opportunity neighborhoods are likely to earn more money as adults and are more likely to attend college as compared to their peers who live outside of opportunity neighborhoods.

Howell and Watson said $20 billion is spent annually in the United States on low-income housing vouchers, but 80% of voucher holders are housed in high poverty neighborhoods, which in King County are mostly concentrated toward the south.

CMTO aims to change that dynamic. It’s a multi-year randomized study (currently in its 2nd and final phase) designed to “develop and test which strategies most effectively support opportunity moves by families with young children using a Housing Choice Voucher”:

  • Baseline Phase: Jan 2017 – Mar 2018 (Planning, design, and pilot testing)
  • Phase I: Apr 2018 – Jun 2019 (Randomized test of bundled intervention strategies)
  • Phase II: Jul 2019 – Dec 2020 (Randomized test of isolated intervention strategies)

Howell said participants are supported by 3 key elements: customized search assistance, direct landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance. The study has involved 499 families and 430 vouchers, 209 in them in the control group (which received vouchers) and 221 of them in the treatment group (which received vouchers in addition to resources to support moving into high-opportunity neighborhoods). Howell added that the results of the earlier phases have been very positive thus far, with 54% of participants in the treatment group opting to move into the opportunity neighborhood (compared to 14% from the control group), and said the current project phase will further examine the impact of individual components of the CMTO services (financial assistance, informational toolkit, and coaching/resources).

“We can’t afford to provide all but services we’d like to give,” Howell said, “but the results will tell us the best way to spend our resources.”

Helen Howell, King County Housing Authority

Howell said the project is an important next-step for public housing efforts in areas like White Center, with developments like Greenbridge and Seola Gardens, and the focus on families with young kids is particularly important. “We are doing our best to equip children with tools and opportunities they need to succeed in life,” Howell said.

Watson then talked about the “deconcentration of poverty” effort, noting that some of the highest poverty rates in King County had traditionally existed in White Center, largely because of WW2-era housing. “What we’ve now been doing for 20 years,” Watson said, “is to make every attempt to deconcentrate poverty and to encourage low-income households to not reside in high-poverty areas,” citing the extensive research showing that low-income families do better if they live in high-opportunity areas. He said a major goal of the Greenbridge vitalization was to rebuild WW2-era derelict housing and to reduce the concentration of lower-opportunity areas.

Dan Watson, King County Housing Authority

Watson said there is a much smaller percentage of low-income families living in Greenbridge now than the number that lived in older WC developments such as Park Lake, and that the number of low-income units in White Center is actually decreasing. He contrasted that with Bellevue, where “we’ve actually been growing our inventory of low-income housing.” He added that housing vouchers that are “tenant-based” are portable and can be used anywhere in the area, and after one year the recipient could even use them to move out of state. Some recipients opt to continue living where they are, but an increasing number do take the opportunity to move.

Q&A with attendees:

  • Q: Are these properties single-family homes? A: Generally no, these are rental units.
  • Q: How do you define high-opportunity neighborhoods?  A: Leading researchers like Raj Chetty generally use sources like IRS and census data, tracking how participants are doing from childhood through 30s, and sometimes proxy data is used, but generally it’s based on outcomes.  It can be hard to define, no doubt safety and quality of schools contribute to it. Chetty’s research was nationwide and we were lucky that King County was already working on offering choice to low-income families, as a result the impact has been considerable here (see a recent Vox article).
  • Q: What’s the difference between the control group and the treatment group? A: The control group had access to vouchers but didn’t have the same support and education regarding opportunity neighborhoods.
  • Q: What’s the status of Greenbridge and Seola Gardens?  A: Seola Gardens has been completely built and sold. Greenbridge in still in progress, the market will only absorb so many sales, 170 houses can go on vacant property but we still have houses there that aren’t sold yet.  The houses on the northwest corner have already sold.
  • Q: Comparing concentration of low-income housing between White Center and Bellevue doesn’t make sense because Bellevue is so much bigger. A: That’s true, but regardless the trend is that White Center has less low-income housing while Bellevue is gaining more and more. We’ve reduced the concentration in WC a great deal. Areas like Shoreline and Redmond are also growing as it relates to subsidized housing.  Follow-up Q:  The data I’ve seen shows that most of the low-income housing in Bellevue is actually for people who are in the workforce. A: Yes, in Bellevue most of it is “workforce housing” for those with lower income but they do have jobs.
  • Q: Are there options for how the vouchers are assigned? A: Yes, we can “project-base” the vouchers.  Some of them are “hard unit” vouchers that are fixed to the unit, such as some of the Greenbridge units which are apartments that are permanently subsidized with very low rents.  The average household size of those using vouchers is 2.5 people.
  • Q: What is “shelter burden” as it relates to low-income housing? A: It’s the percentage of your income that you spend on housing, we look at the percentage of households paying more than 30% and 50%. Based on that metric, there is a higher percentage of low-income households with 30% and 50% shelter burden in areas like Bellevue than there are in White Center.
  • Q: What about the Wind Rose site at Greenbridge (northeast corner)? A: Fur us, what we’re talking about is the big building near 4th and Roxbury, next to the Connor Homes development. Watson said they have no immediate plans for it, just conceptual ideas, the areas once had an auto repair shop and a convenience store that were demolished. Generally speaking, senior housing or assisted living is most likely, a building of that density wouldn’t make sense otherwise, it could hold accommodate approximately 80 1-bedroom units but only 15-30 larger units for families.  Follow-up Q: Would the usage be limited to housing or could it be a live-work development with retail? There’s not much in that area for shops and food. A: Again, no formal plans exist, the area could be anything, we could potentially sell it for development but options are likely a bit limited, there isn’t a lot of parking. Follow-up question: When will the homes at Wind Rose be completed, and what about other projects?  A: Wind Rose will likely be built and sold within the next 12 months. There are also townhomes down toward the bog, and the developments between 4th-6th won’t go on market until later.
  • Q: What are the criteria for a family to take advantage of the housing vouchers, and what’s their value? A: To get a voucher, you have to be added to a very lengthy waiting list, the last time we opened it up for new applications we had 20,000 applications for 2,500 available vouchers.  It’s challenging because we have so many shelter-burdened families, rents have gone up but wages have gone up so little. Regarding voucher value, it changes and is relative, if the voucher is a fixed dollar amount then people will go where rent is cheaper, but our approach is to adjust the value so that it’s worth more if you want to live in high-opportunity area, we recognize that this means we have to pay more but the research certainly tells us it’s worth it.
  • Q: Does your program have funding to sustain and grow? A: Growth is challenging. A lot of our work has been federally funded but that amount isn’t increasing, but some state and local resources are increasing, we have to be creative, we can’t really “grow” but we can redirect funds and use them wisely.  Trying to focus on families with children. Follow-up Q: White Center also has projects like Unity Village (WCN coverage here), and other private projects like Southside by Vintage, there are more than just those worked on by the housing authority. A: We’re finding that there’s such an overwhelming need for housing that it gets built in places that we normally don’t expect it to go. This prompted a discussion about gentrification in areas like the Central District where demographics have really changed. Watson said approximately 65% of very low-income households now live entirely outside of the city, they’re priced out, and there’s a lot of concern about people leaving White Center and King County.
  • Q: How many low-income homes are on the tax rolls? A: Almost half of the land that was off tax rolls is coming back on, and eventually all of the homes will be back on tax rolls.  Those homes are selling for $500k-$700k, while homes in Seola Gardens started at $300k and the Conner Homes are $600K or more. According to project data, by 2026 there will be 481 new taxable homes built out at Seola Gardens and Greenbridge combined, worth $200 million and generating $2.78 million in annual tax revenue.
  • Q: What about the maintenance of Greenbridge and Seola Gardens such as streets and roads? Originally the federal government provided that money. A: We have contracts with the federal government, but now the streets are public and should be maintained by county, although we maintain landscapes and even some of the hardscapes because the county doesn’t have a lot of resources. There is also a homeowner’s association, so private owners put money in the pot that helps with maintenances.  The buildings themselves are largely maintained through rents (not just subsidies). Follow-up comment from an attendee: While walking around Greenbridge it seems like there’s a line between where the street maintenance ends and the homeowners’ maintenance ends, which means there are stretches that never get maintained and need replanting every year.
  • Q: Does the housing authority get to control building designs? For the most part, the designs have been very good. A: We have a say in the lot sizes, design guidelines, covenants and rules and regulations.   We agree that the designs have been good, with the help of the community.
  • Q: What about the problematic intersection at 4th Ave and Olson? It’s dangerous.  A: That’s the city of Seattle, we have designed it up to a point, Seattle DOT has plan to fix that intersection, hopefully they’ll take out some cement. It’s a problem and the city knows it, we actually talked to the city today and asked that it be moved up to be a higher-priority project.
  • Q: How long can a family receiving vouchers continue to receive them? Is there a time limit? A: There’s no timeline, we don’t see a point in enforcing a limit but we hope that people will successfully transition from receiving a voucher to buying a home.  The problem is that costs are going up and people with vouchers have a hard time making that leap. We’ve had discussions about enforcing a time limit but haven’t gone for that, we feel there’s something wrong with potentially cutting people off after we get them properly housed.
  • Q: Do subsidized properties get privatized?  A: We generally anticipate owning the properties forever, there have been some criticisms nationally in instances where subsidized properties are privatized, but Watson said “that won’t happen here as long as we’re around.”
  • Q: It seems like entities involved with housing support should also be fighting for a livable wage, since that’s a huge part of the problem. Maybe we need to get a lobbyist? I heard it costs an average of $202K to live in Seattle now. A: Yes, we certainly try to support those efforts where we can, but it’s important to note that in some cases the individual getting our support has a disability and isn’t eligible to work. Follow-up Q:  I know someone who has been on subsidies for 20 years. Do you maintain a job board or send job opportunities to those who are receiving housing benefits and could be eligible to work? A: Yes, we have a resident services department with programs for education and finding jobs. We often say that people have a better opportunity to find work if their housing situation is stable and can take classes, etc.

Next, Major Jesse Anderson talked about criminal activity and trends in the area:

  • There was an incident on Halloween night in which 4 juveniles stole a car, drove into Burien and were “shooting at cars and people with a pellet gun.” Officers followed up on it that night but couldn’t find anybody who wanted to press charges at the time. After the event hit the news, then one victim came forward. There is now one individual who may be charged, but Anderson said “it’s not a particularly solid case because there were 4 people in the car.” Anderson added that his office has seen an increase in incidents (one had happened that same day) in which victims don’t want to press charges, which could be for a variety of reasons — fear of retaliation, not wanting to ruin anyone’s life, etc. “It doesn’t help us out if we as a community aren’t willing to go to court,” Anderson said, “but we need to have a victim for property crimes; someone willing to testify.”

Jesse Anderson, King County Sheriff’s Office

  • There’s been progress at 98th and 13th SW which was a well-known drug house. The property has been “red tagged” and the water shut off, with orders to vacate, and if not honored then officers can go back and make arrests for trespassing. It’s possible that the person who has control of property could fight it, but if they go back they could be arrested. Anderson said he gave directions to the sergeant overseeing it that we could take people to jail and we won’t allow illegal activities to happen in that area — it wasn’t just drugs, it was also car theft and juvelines assaulting people. At another nearby address not far west of that location, similar illegal activity has decreased and someone has been arrested due to a probation violation.
  • There was a robbery at 110th and 1st at the grocery store involving juveniles, at least some of whom were also involved in other incidents, and three of them were booked into juvenile detention.
  • Anderson said his office is currently working on a collision reduction program, looking in unincorporated areas for distracted drivers (like texting and driving). Similarly to how we’ve identified “top crime areas,” we also have “top collision areas” including Roxbury between 96th-98th and between 4th-17th, Skyway and Boulevard Park.
  • We work with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which will be discussed further in the NHUAC group’s next meeting in December. We getting started with the program and have made progress, once we get policy and training figured out we’ll take the next step. It’s an ideal program to deal with people committing low level offenses with no criminal history, we can refer them to mental health services if they agree to follow through. It’s a tool and a resource, Seattle and Burien have been doing it for quite some time.

Q&A with attendees and Anderson:

  • Attendees mentioned or asked about a few other incidents, including a robbery at Bartell Drugs last week in which someone jumped over the counter, as well as an incident at Proletariat Pizza in which a worker was taking out the garbage and was accosted by someone on a bike with a gun, and an incident of vandalism in which a house was burned.
  • Q: It seems like there have been more issues lately with meth instead of heroin, and it’s hard to watch people melting down. I recently drove an 8-mile loop (near 104th and 120th by Ambaum) and saw all kinds of issues (like chop houses) and it seems like a lot of residents (particularly the elderly) don’t know what’s going on. There are challenging areas such as around Fred Meyer, it really has changed for the worse, there are some good things but I see problems especially by lakes and waterways.  A: We’re trying to make progress in areas where we can make a difference such as dealing with derelict motor homes and trailers and cars, trying to clean up as much as we can under the law, and working with code enforcement.  Follow-up comment/question: If we simply react and don’t offer meaningful help, then what are we really accomplishing? A: Efforts like LEAD will help, but if people are convicted felons then they’re not eligible for LEAD but we can always make social referrals. An attendee mentioned Ricky’s Law (which went into effect in April 2018 regarding involuntary treatment) and Anderson said if officers can show that someone is a danger to themselves or others then they can offer voluntary acceptance but we can also do involuntary intervention.
  • Q: The last time you came and talked at this meeting, you said that your office was doing a sweep, what can you tell us about that? A: It was very successful, we made 7-8 arrests and stopped one person who we know was heavily involved with drug sales, we could impound and search cars, got some guns off street. Was a great example of departments combining resources. Follow-up Q: Of those 7-8 arrests you made, how many are still behind bars? A: I’m not sure, but would guess most or all of them are out. The attendee said “that has to be frustrating for you,” and Anderson responded that juvenile detention centers have restrictive criteria, and adults booked into jail are frequently released due to capacity issues. I do feel good about my job, I know that we’re doing our part and we’re one end of criminal justice system and we work with the prosecutors and courts. Violent offenders are kept behind bars.
  • Q: What about the recent South Park homicide near Donovan and 8th  A: Not familiar with it, was in Seattle jurisdiction.
  • Q: Have there been any issues with marijuana stores?  A: No major problems recently. We did take care of an illegal one off 16th, but our undercover folks aren’t aware of any others at this time. A couple of attendees asked about traffic around one of the pot shops being an issue.
  • Q: Do you expect you can increase the numbers of deputies as part of the new budget coming out, with more population in our area?  A: To be honest, in unincorporated King County we have more officers than other areas do, I used to work in the northeast precinct which had a huge area to cover but different issues.  In White Center we have 2 district cars 24hrs a day, a storefront deputy, a housing deputy, and dedicated CSO and other resources available. We can also get resources from Burien and Boulevard Park.  The county doesn’t have much funding but we do what we can. We have a gang unit and want to build on it. And you have to remember that you’re only seeing uniformed officers, that doesn’t include plainclothes officers. Attendees agreed that deputies are almost always available to help, with a good response time.
  • Q: Are there conflicting goals between the prosecutor’s office (trying to put people in jail) and programs like LEAD (try to keep people out of jail)? A: No, the primary goal is to solve the problem, which sometimes means jail but sometimes means using the tools we have to make referrals.
  • Q: I attended a recent southwest precinct meeting about how to avoid getting scammed, with a presentation from the attorney general’s office, and they may be invited to a future NHUAC meeting. A: In 2007 we unfortunately had to do away with the fraud unit. On occasion we cover cases of fraud against the elderly, but we generally don’t have capacity to do that. The same commenter also talked about ways in which she’s interacted with neighbors about barriers to reporting crime, and how people are confused about who to call (she noted that she can relate, living 700ft from one border and 400ft from other).

Other announcements and comments:

  • Willow Fulton from the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee reminded attendees about their upcoming community meeting (as we previewed here) on Thursday, November 21st to review options for the camp, which recently had its permit extended until March 2020. Fulton encouraged attendees to take a tour of the facility if interested, to visit and get involved.  She also mentioned their regular committee meetings the first Sunday of each month. A few attendees discussed the positive differences near the camp since the area had been cleaned up.
  • NHUAC secretary Pat Price mentioned the White Center Library Guild’s annual fundraiser from 10 am-3 pm on Saturday November 16th at the library, to raise funds for teens and children.
  • White Center Kiwanis is doing their annual fundraiser, selling nuts for $20 per can with all proceeds going to help kids in White Center.
  • Jerry Pionk from King County Local Services encouraged residents to send questions, comments, and concerns to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov, and to connect on social media with the group.

The next NHUAC meeting will be December 5th with a presentation from the Seattle-King County LEAD program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), and likely a representative from prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office.

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$200,000 grant for White Center Community Development Association

November 12th, 2019 at 1:40 pm Posted in White Center Community Development Association, White Center news | No Comments »

From the WCN inbox: Though Bank of America closed its White Center branch earlier this year, it hasn’t completely disengaged from the community. Today B of A sent this announcement that it’s given the WCCDA a $200,000 grant:

White Center Community Development Association (CDA) and OneAmerica have been named as the 2019 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for Seattle. The nonprofits were selected for their work in the Seattle area to address issues fundamental to economic mobility, specifically the CDA’s efforts to promote a vibrant neighborhood and high quality of life for residents in White Center and OneAmerica’s work advancing the fundamental principles of democracy by building power within immigrant communities.

As an awardee, each organization receives a $200,000 grant, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader at the organization, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact. Over the past 15 years, Bank of America has invested $240 million in 49 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and helping more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills.

“The tremendous growth our region has enjoyed has not benefitted communities equally. Rising real estate and staffing costs are impacting many small business owners in the region, and many of our immigrant neighbors and communities of color continue to face barriers to stable employment and economic mobility that is the American dream,” said Kerri Schroeder, Seattle market president, Bank of America. “Non-profits like OneAmerica and White Center CDA are on the front lines addressing issues of equity, economics and education that are critical to removing those barriers. We’re proud that the Neighborhood Builders program not only provides funding, but also helps develop emerging nonprofit executives who are taking transformative and successful approaches in advancing equity and inclusion in our community.”

This year, Bank of America recognizes White Center CDA for its efforts to promote a vibrant neighborhood and high quality of life for residents in White Center through the development of authentic leadership opportunities, small business support and preservation, and community-led neighborhood initiatives that help address basic needs across this diverse community.

“Bank of America’s investment helps us build our support for small businesses owned by immigrants, women and people of color and to eliminate the achievement and opportunity gap for children of color,” said Sili Savusa, White Center CDA executive director. “Bank of America shares our vision of a community in which people of all incomes and backgrounds can share in the opportunity and prosperity of our region. Through this support, we are excited to continue building and expanding a vibrant, economically diverse community.

Our other recipient, OneAmerica, advances the fundamental principles of democracy by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies, bringing forward the voices of those most marginalized in society due to immigration status, language ability, race, ethnicity, income, gender and religious identity.

“Displacement due to rising land values and rent is one of the most pressing issues facing immigrant and refugee business owners in our region,” said Rich Stolz, OneAmerica executive director. “At the same time, under-represented communities are working to shape a workforce development system that better meets the needs of individuals facing barriers to employment and opportunity, like language access, transferring foreign credentials, and building marketable skills in a rapidly changing economy. OneAmerica will use these funds to invest in our staff and expand our capacity to develop a series of policy briefs on strategies to strengthen state and regional workforce development systems and to ensure that those most impacted by these issues are shaping solutions grounded in their aspirations and experience.”

Since 2004, through its Neighborhood Builders program, Bank of America has partnered with 30 nonprofits in Seattle, investing $6 million to provide financial education and economic mobility opportunities within the Seattle area. The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardees. Examples of the leadership training topics include human capital management, increasing financial sustainability, and storytelling. Neighborhood Builders is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.

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White Center Community Development Association plans first Community Pop-Up Market

November 10th, 2019 at 1:04 pm Posted in White Center Community Development Association, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Announced by WCCDA:

The White Center Community Development Association would like to invite you to our first Community Pop-Up Market on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 1 PM-5 PM at 9630 16th Ave SW.

The theme of the market is “Resisting Displacement.” Local artists, makers, and chefs will be showcasing and selling the products that they create with community. All proceeds will go to the local vendors.

White Center has always been an innovative, creative, and culturally rich community and this pop-up market intends to celebrate that richness in our community in order to resist the displacement that is happening.

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ELECTION RESULTS: North Highline notes

November 6th, 2019 at 5:35 pm Posted in Election, Politics, White Center news | No Comments »

The second round of results from the general election are out. Here are local races of note:

HIGHLINE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 1
Aaron Garcia – 7,440 – 52.13 %
Tracy Castro-Gill – 6,697 – 46.92 %

HIGHLINE SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 5
Fa’izah Bradford – 7,631 – 51.21 %
Jeanette Burrage – 7,216 – 48.43 %

North Highline Fire Commissioner Julie Hiatt won re-election without opposition.

See all results from around King County here; for the statewide ballot measures, go here.

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VIDEO: The arrest that followed helicopter search over White Center

November 5th, 2019 at 10:57 pm Posted in Crime, Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | No Comments »

We got some questions Monday afternoon about a Guardian One search over White Center. KCSO answered those questions with this update today:

On 11/4/2019, at about 2:50 PM, Deputy Hancock located an occupied stolen vehicle near the 9800 block of 13 Avenue SW in White Center. The driver of the vehicle got out and fled through an apartment complex.

Guardian 1 took to the air, and Deputy Gervacio grabbed his K9 partner “Paco” to assist in the hunt for the suspect. Guardian One noticed a suspicious hot spot, and K9 Paco found the suspect hiding at the bottom of a rock wall.

The 43 year old male, from White Center, was arrested without incident. The suspect denied he had driven the stolen car, but deputies were able to locate video of the suspect behind the wheel, wearing a beige jacket – which was found hidden inside the car.

KCSO adds that the suspect “was booked into King County jail on several outstanding warrants. The vehicle theft investigation remains open.”

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ELECTION DAY 2019: Time to vote if you haven’t already!

November 5th, 2019 at 12:16 pm Posted in Election, White Center news | No Comments »

Election Day is here. Besides the statewide ballot measures, you have local races to decide too:

King County Council District 8
Highline School Board District 1
Highline School Board District 5
Port of Seattle Commission Position 2
Port of Seattle Commission Position 5

And there’s one countywide ballot measure, the Medic One levy.

If you’re using the White Center Library ballot dropbox, get there by 8 pm. (Or any other King County Elections dropbox.) If you’re putting your ballot in the postal mail, do it earlier, because you need to b sure it’s postmarked today.

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THURSDAY: Here’s what you’ll hear about with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 3rd, 2019 at 7:03 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | No Comments »

From safety to housing policy, another wide-ranging discussion is ahead at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When: Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7 pm
Where: North Highline Fire Station at 1243 SW 112th Street in White Center
(Parking and Entrance are in the Back of the Station)

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Good news — the Seahawks are NOT playing this Thursday and you are cordially invited to NHUAC’s November 7th community meeting. If you were watching the Hawks on October 3rd, you missed an informative meeting. We learned about the Micro-Housing Demonstration Project planned for White Center and North Highline’s Subarea Planning. KCSO rounded out the evening with King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht and Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer. Topics included an arrest in the murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1991, fentanyl, gangs, staffing, and current crime stats. White Center Now has the story at:

whitecenternow.com/2019/10/09/housing-zoning-crime-safety-more-north-highline-unincorporated-area-council/

Although Sheriff Mitzi won’t be back for a while, KCSO is not letting us down. Major Jesse Anderson will join us for the second time since taking command of Precinct 4.

According to a recent City Lab article, “Research has shown this tremendous disparity in the likelihood of living out the American dream across space,” says Christopher Palmer, assistant professor of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “There’s tremendous differences in where you grow up that help determine the likelihood that you will have a higher standard of living than your parents did when you grow up.”

“In American cities that have become ever-more segregated by race and wealth, good schools, green spaces, lower crime, and public amenities tends to cluster in exclusive and mostly white bastions of privilege. That exclusivity has serious impacts, especially on the lives of children: Exposure to better neighborhoods (as opposed to exposure to poverty) makes a world of difference in a child’s future earnings and education level.” Palmer adds, “It just begs the question: What can be done? Isn’t there something we can do?”

NHUAC is pleased to welcome Helen Howell, King County Housing Authority’s (KCHA) Senior Director of Policy, Research & Social Impact Initiatives, and Executive Director and Chief Development Officer, Dan Watson, to our November 7th community meeting. Join us and learn what KCHA is doing to make that difference and improve lives!

Knowledge Is Power. Learn, Share and Help Make Our Community A Better Place.

Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7 pm

Bring a Friend!

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Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee meets Sunday

November 1st, 2019 at 7:17 pm Posted in Myers Way, White Center news | No Comments »

If you have a question or comment about Camp Second Chance, the Seattle-sanctioned encampment on the Myers Way Parcels, you can bring it to the CSC Community Advisory Committee meeting this Sunday, November 3rd, 2 pm at Arrowhead Gardens (9200 2nd SW). Also, reminder that the city is holding a community meeting about the future of the encampment – currently renewed through March – on November 21st, 6:30 pm at the Joint Training Facility (9401 Myers Way S.)

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WHITE CENTER TRAFFIC ALERT: Roundabout work closes intersection

October 28th, 2019 at 3:33 pm Posted in Traffic, White Center news | No Comments »

The 8th/102nd roundabout project has shut down that intersection through Wednesday (October 30th), according to King County Roads. It’s expected to reopen by 8 pm Wednesday.

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BIZNOTE: White Center CoWorking opens

October 27th, 2019 at 11:37 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | No Comments »

From the inbox, a new-business announcement:

White Center CoWorking is a shared office and event space, providing a beautiful, friendly and inclusive work environment for individuals and small businesses in the White Center area of West Seattle.

Occupying the West corner of the Rozella Building, White Center CoWorking (WCCW) is proud to be a part of the lineage of incredible businesses to thrive in the oldest standing commercial building in White Center. The team behind WCCW saw the potential in this gorgeous old building and with a little elbow grease and some community support have reinvigorated this space as a community hub.

Offering multi-tiered membership options, WCCW is available to members from 8 am – 6 pm with several open desks and meeting areas, as well as reliable wi-fi and free coffee! The space also includes a conference room available for rent to non-members.

“As independent business owners, both Katy and I needed a reliable place to be productive and connect with others,” said co-founder Stefanie Karlin. “You can only work from home so many days before you realize your dog doesn’t count as a co-worker.”

Keep an eye out for monthly member happy hours, small-business focused continuing education and community programming. A list of currently scheduled programs is below:

Nov 7 | 6 pm – New Buyer’s Event with Team Diva

Nov 12 | 6 pm – Bookkeeping and Financial Planning for Small Businesses

Nov 14 | 4:30 pm – Monthly Member Happy Hour

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WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Air and ground search for a robber

October 25th, 2019 at 9:31 pm Posted in Businesses, Crime, Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 1 Comment »

(Also posted to partner site West Seattle Blog)

Took a while to get the details on this but for everyone who asked why the Guardian One helicopter was looping over White Center and South Delridge for a while – it was part of the search for someone who robbed an employee of Proletariat Pizza (9622 16th SW) in the alley behind the business, says King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott. He says a robber armed with a handgun took the employee’s wallet and cell phone “and fled northbound into Seattle on a bike.”

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NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: Have a say today!

October 24th, 2019 at 1:21 am Posted in King County, White Center news | 3 Comments »

Your next chance to get involved in planning our area’s future is this afternoon. David Goodman, who’s leading the county’s work on the North Highline Subarea Plan, sent this message:

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us over the past few months about the North Highline Subarea Plan! Since we began this process in July we have attended over 20 meetings with community leaders and groups and received nearly 100 responses to our survey. We sincerely value your involvement and input in this process.

I will be holding office hours on Thursday, October 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the White Center Library (1409 SW 107th St). Please stop by if you’d like to chat about anything related to the Subarea Plan.

We are now moving into a new phase of the planning process. My colleagues and I will spend the next few weeks drafting an outline of the North Highline Subarea Plan that addresses the issues that the community has shared with us. Beginning in mid-November and running through the end of January, we will share that outline with the community and work together to ensure that the Plan is reflective of your values and vision for the future.

The North Highline Subarea Plan survey, available in English and Spanish, will remain open through the end of the month. This is a great opportunity to share your thoughts on your neighborhood and help direct our planning work.

Please visit the North Highline Subarea Plan website for more information.

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NEXT SATURDAY: White Center Halloween Carnival

October 19th, 2019 at 11:47 pm Posted in Fun, Parks, White Center news | Comments Off on NEXT SATURDAY: White Center Halloween Carnival

Next Saturday! Here’s the announcement:

The annual King County Parks Family Halloween Carnival is coming up on Saturday, October 26th from 2-5 pm at the White Center Community Center, in Steve Cox Memorial Park (1321 SW 102nd 98146.)

Doors open at 2 pm and general admission is FREE.

Local teens have planned nearly 30 different spooky town-themed crafts and games for local children ages 10 and under. Brave the tunnels of the Underground Obstacle Course, mail yourself a letter from the Spooky Town Post Office, get a little messy at the Slime Factory, show off your artistic skills at a craft table, march thru town in the costume parade at 3:30pm, catch the Magic show at 3:45pm, and win some not so valuable prizes at some of the Spooky Town game booths.

Tickets for each activity are sold for .25 each or 4/$1.00.

In addition to the games, the carnival will also feature a free juggling performance at 3:45 p.m.

This year’s carnival is once again sponsored by the Teens and Staff of the White Center Teen Program. The WCTP offers free recreational, educational and social enrichment programming to over 1400 culturally diverse participants ages 12-19 each year. The program operates five days a week, forty-eight weeks a year and provides structured recreational classes and programs, homework assistance, educational and computer resources, leadership training, volunteer opportunities, special events, field trips, and drop-in activities.

The Annual Halloween Carnival is traditionally one of the teens’ favorite volunteer events. Program staff estimate at least 50 teens will volunteer at the event.

For additional Information, please contact Vana Danh at 206.477.2105.

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CAMP SECOND CHANCE: City of Seattle announces November meeting

October 18th, 2019 at 1:59 pm Posted in Myers Way, White Center news | Comments Off on CAMP SECOND CHANCE: City of Seattle announces November meeting

The City of Seattle’s long-promised meeting about the future of Camp Second Chance has finally been announced: 6:30 pm Thursday, November 21st, at the Joint Training Facility (9401 Myers Way S.), north of the encampment. CSC is now in its fourth year on the city-owned Myers Way Parcels. In September, shortly after announcing another six-month extension for its permit to be there, the city said that if they don’t reach an agreement with a potential “faith-based sponsor,” they’ll start planning to dismantle the camp. As of last month, 55 people were living at CSC.

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SATURDAY: Be part of Duwamish Alive!

October 18th, 2019 at 1:00 am Posted in How to Help, White Center news | Comments Off on SATURDAY: Be part of Duwamish Alive!

Saturday is the twice-yearly Duwamish Alive! multi-site work party focused on the health of our area’s only river and its watershed. And one of this year’s sites is in White Center! You are invited to volunteer at White Center Heights Park – contact Lina Rose at lina.rose@kingcounty.gov or call 206-477-6101. 10 am-1 pm is the main window for volunteers. See the full list of areas here.

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Affordable-housing, renter-protection proposals advancing in King County Council

October 15th, 2019 at 2:51 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | 18 Comments »

News release from the King County Council:

A major renter protection and affordable housing package moved forward on Tuesday when a King County Council committee passed the first of four pieces of legislation.

“This package of legislation is a major step in the right direction to protect the most disenfranchised residents in King County,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who championed the package. “If this legislation is approved, King County can be a model throughout the country on protecting renters, enhancing affordable housing, and mitigating the impacts of gentrification on longtime residents and those in need of affordable housing.”

Brought forward by Gossett and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott, the first legislation – passed by the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee – will take aim at creating a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center.

The program, to be developed by the executive’s office and then implemented by council, would create community land trusts in communities with the highest minority populations in King County. It would include mandatory or voluntary inclusionary zoning, maintaining affordability for people living at up to 50% of area median income in White Center and Skyway. In addition, it would give preference to local community members displaced by increasing rents the first option to move back into those communities.

Tuesday’s passage marks the first step toward implementing a major renter protection package. Gossett and Kohl-Welles have backed three more pieces of legislation that will work together to increase protections for renters across King County and build up new programs to reduce displacement in at-risk communities.

The measures include:

*Formation of a King County Renters’ Commission to advise officials on renter issues and possible measures to improve housing access and affordability.

*Revision of King County code to clarify when and how landlords can legally evict tenants through addition of just cause eviction definitions.

Creation of a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center. The program would be a five-year pilot that would help tenants displaced by rising rents relocate back to their community through rental assistance and increased protections for existing renters.
“On paper, our economy is thriving,” Kohl-Welles said. “But in reality, too many of our neighbors are struggling to get by and are being priced out of their homes. This suite of legislation will help increase affordability for and access to stable housing as well as increased representation for renters. Most important, it will help renters feel a sense of stability knowing they can’t be evicted without just cause.”

Tuesday’s approved motion will go before the full council at its Oct. 24 meeting, while the other three measures will undergo further discussion in the council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee.

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UPDATE: Shooting in Top Hat; victim found in North Burien

October 11th, 2019 at 7:00 pm Posted in Burien, Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Top Hat, White Center news | 1 Comment »

7:06 PM: Got a few questions about helicopters just south of White Center. The King County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting in North Burien, 2nd SW and SW 120th [map]. KCSO says a 27-year-old man was “shot in the face” and was taken to Harborview in serious condition. No other info yet.

11:35 PM: Update from KCSO: “Deputies were able to determine actual shooting took place in the Top Hat area of unincorporated King County and the victim fled to a house in Burien. This entire incident was over a vehicle. The suspect is still outstanding.”

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No school today

October 11th, 2019 at 10:27 am Posted in Highline School District, White Center news | Comments Off on No school today

It’s a statewide in-service day for teachers so Highline Public Schools have no classes today (Friday, October 11th).

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Housing, zoning, crime, safety, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 9th, 2019 at 7:37 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | 5 Comments »

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht

Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for White Center Now

Issues related to housing, zoning, crime, and safety took center stage Thursday night at the October meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) at the North Highline Fire Station, featuring a visit from King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht (who last appeared at NHUAC just over a year ago).

There was a good crowd at the meeting despite its overlap with the Seahawks game — in fact, while Johanknecht was speaking, a chorus of fireworks could be heard from around the neighborhood after the Seahawks’ victory, prompting chuckles and comments like “aren’t fireworks illegal?” from around the room.

Toplines from the meeting are below, including links to two surveys (one that closes October 13) for the public to share feedback:

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN (website here): First on the agenda was David Goodman (pictured below), subarea planner from King County Department of Local Services, to give an update on the one-year North Highline Subarea planning process that began in July. Goodman said the planning is part of an effort to initiate new subarea plans across the county for various service areas such as North Highline. Plans include detailed assessments of the area’s land use, demographics, population and development. Goodman said the existing plans are very dated and haven’t changed in 25 years, and even those most recent changes from 1994 were limited to areas west of Highway 509 (east of 509, the plans are even older).

Goodman walked attendees though the area’s zoning map (digital version here) and explained that most of the area’s land (56.7%) was designated as “R-6-Residential” which means up to 6 dwelling units per acre. He noted that as part of the planning process, residents can “help decide what we want the community to look like in the future.”

NHUAC President Liz Giba and others in attendance asked about the White Center Community HUB project being planned at the former Public Health Center site at 8th Avenue SW & SW 108th Street (which could break ground in 2022 if things go according to plan), as well as the upcoming 2021 expansion of the RapidRide H Line (which will replace the extremely busy Metro Route 120). Goodman, along with other officials in attendance, answered audience questions about those initiatives and confirmed their importance as part of the overall vision and planning for the area.

Goodman said the planning process runs through next May and that his team plans to be back at NHUAC at least once more during that timeframe. In the meantime, he encouraged attendees to visit the project website and fill out their survey (click the “Take Our Survey” button) to share feedback. (Note: We had posted about this survey a couple of weeks ago as well.)

An audience member asked about ADU (accessory dwelling units) or “mother-in-law” dwellings. Goodman and other officials in attendance said that these are units which are 1000 square feet or smaller, not officially part of property it’s adjacent to, and without its own address. ADUs must be registered with the county.

WHITE CENTER MICROHOUSING DEMONSTRATION PROJECT: Next up was Mark Ellerbrook (pictured below), division director for King County Housing & Community Development, to give an update on plans for a WC-based Alternative Housing Demonstration Project (website here) that is currently in “public comment” period until October 13. Ellerbrook encouraged neighbors to give their feedback on the project by visiting its website.

The White Center project is one of two proposed sites in the area (the other is in Vashon Island) aimed at providing affordable housing options.  Per their website, “the county started by asking: ‘What innovative housing types could create more affordable housing, but aren’t allowed under existing regulations?'” Ellerbrook said the projects aim to tackle two key issues:

  1. Housing crisis and availability of places to live. “Our estimate is that in the next 21 years we will need 240,000 additional units of affordable housing to meet demand and growth,” Ellerbrook said, adding that the median cost in King County is $1800/mo, and in order for citizens to be successful “we need housing of all types; what people want is evolving. A single-family home with a yard isn’t necessarily what everyone wants.”
  2. Displacement and gentrification. Ellerbrook said he’s heard repeatedly from the White Center Chamber of Commerce and local businesses who say that they have employees who work in White Center and would love to live here but can’t afford it —  rental costs in WC are $2200/mo and have increased a lot in last few years, Ellerbrook said.

Ellerbrook said the proposed developer for the WC project is Seattle-based Neimen Taber, which has developed similar projects like The Roost, and the proposed location would be somewhere in the urban center at 102nd/16th. If approved, the decision regarding where to develop the property would happen in mid-2020. Ellerbrook stressed that “this is not a subsidized housing project; it’s looking for a way to create lower cost housing in a way that doesn’t need to be subsidized.” Ellerbrook said the goal is to have the target cost be $650-$1000/mo for residents. “For someone making minimum wage, $650 would be one-third of their income,” he said.

Questions from the audience:

  • “Will residents of this property pay taxes?” Ellerbrook said yes, absolutely. Follow-up question: would residents pay impact fees (one-time fees connected to school-building costs)? Ellerbrook wasn’t sure, but said it may be unlikely that families with children would live there, based on trends seen in the similar Roost development.
  • “What about parking?”  Ellerbrook said that’s being discussed; for a development like this, is parking required for every unit? There are many transit options available in the proposed development area.
  • “Is there actually land available in the proposed area?” Ellerbrook said the developer would be looking for available property there. It would require a 5000-6000 square-foot lot (smaller than a block).
  • “How does this relate to the signs I’ve seen over by Greenbridge about a new high-rise?” Ellerbrook and other officials in attendance said that those would be managed by King County Housing Authority (a different entity) similar to low-incoming housing options at Seola Gardens and Greenbridge. NHUAC president Liz Giba said that a representative from KCHA would be be attending NHUAC’s next meeting.
  • “Don’t we want diversity in the types of housing we have, which means we want higher-priced homes as well, not just lower-priced?” Another attendee noted that people in Central District were priced out and have been moving to WC where affordable housing is — is that a desirable trend? Ellerbrook and others noted that housing prices in WC have more than doubled in 5 years ($200K to $440K), and that Seattle has been a national leader in striking that balance, with property tax levies to fund affordable housing going back 30 years. Follow-up comment: It seems that residents are keeping their single-family homes and seeing them go up significantly in price, but then as “megaprojects” for low income is completed, the balance is thrown off and “we’re going downhill; a healthy community needs all types of housing.” Ellerbrook again stressed that this latest WC project is for market rate housing (not subsidized housing).
  • “We keep hearing that this project is for our community, but for other recent projects we asked if we can prioritize them for local residents, but were told we can’t.” Ellerbrook: We can’t legally restrict any housing unit for a particular neighborhood, because of fair housing.  What we can (and will) do is “affirmative marketing” to work with local business owners to market this new building to people who live in the community.

COMMENTS FROM THE SHERIFF: Next on the agenda was a special guest, King C0unty Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. “Sheriff Mitzi” has been with KCSO since 1985, served as commander of Precinct 4 and was the first woman to lead the county’s SWAT team, and was elected sheriff in 2017.

Johanknecht began with some big news that made national headlines: an arrest made as part of a 27-year-old cold case (King5 story). Back in 1991, 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough was found dead at Federal Way High School, but her murderer was never found. Johanknecht said years of hard work (using exhaustive forensics and DNA evidence) led to last week’s arrest of a suspect. She said that she has a goal of creating a dedicated “cold case unit” (the county doesn’t currently have one; investigators dedicate time when they can) to help with the approximately 300 cold cases that the county has.

On a less positive note, Johanknecht made note of the recent wave of fentanyl-related deaths, primarily from counterfeit prescriptions. She said her office is doing what it can with regard to outreach and education, but the concern is real. “If you’re ordering something on the internet and it doesn’t come from a pharmacy, it’s risky,” she said. Johanknecht encouraged community members to watch for troubling changes in life patterns for friends, family and acquaintances, and offer peer support whenever possible.  An attendee noted that in the past, drug-related issues associated with people living in the wooded area near Myers Way had largely involved meth, but in recent years the trend had been more about opioids.

A question from president Liz Giba: How do you ask for more cops, to serve a larger population that needs it? (She referenced a housing development at Top Hat, and said when they applied for permits they expected 620 residents, but as it turns out there are 800 residents.) Johanknecht said this is definitely a priority, citing a staffing study her office is working on that shows what policing in King County (which has a wide range from rural to urban) should look like, to help inform staffing and budgets. She said that she was asked to make budget cuts when she first took office, but she pushed back on that and actually added resources (such as gang and violent crime violent crime specialists, many working in the south end). She said she is slowly building the department to meet capacity, and hopes the staffing study helps with that. Johanknecht cited strong support from several King County Councilmembers, and looks forward to continue working closely with them.

“Our job is to team up and talk to the people who build budgets and legislate them,” Johanknecht said, “and we’re happy to have your support in that process.” She said 60% of her budget is “revenue-backed,” so the support they’re typically looking for is only about 40%.  Question from the audience: When you do reports about staffing, do you look at the number of officers you have compared to the population in the area they serve? Answer from Johanknecht: That’s easy to do in a city, with blocks that tend to have high population density, but much harder in more remote areas of the county (near Snoqualmie Pass, or in rural areas with 2-lane roads). She cited successes her department has had with using data from computer-aided dispatch that is entered into private vendor databases, and are able to use that data along with “anecdotal stuff” to help with the budget and resourcing processes.

A particularly serious set of questions from the audience: What about the impact of drug cartels and drugs coming into our area from “gang members who may be illegal immigrants,” “why don’t you enforce the laws,” and “why did you take down ICE-related links from your websites?” (KIRO story here)  The questioner also mentioned a family friend who was “murdered by an illegal immigrant.” Johanknecht offered sincere condolences, but explained that King County does have an ordinance that prohibits officers from asking about immigration status, and “I have rules that I have to follow.” However, she noted that “we arrest people all the time” who commit crimes and “we usually don’t need that immigration information” to make those cases. With regard to the links that her office removed from their websites, Johanknecht explained that those were associated with the LinX national database, and that she made the decision to temporarily remove LinX access because after a series of issues that occurred she was concerned that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) personnel could use information in the database to deport undocumented immigrants, which she said was a clear violation of county ordinances. However, she noted that the system access was restored just four days later, not because of publish backlash but because an active investigation needed to happen to ensure that the info-sharing was being done properly. She also noted that in addition to individuals who were critical of her decision to take down there links, there were also individuals who were “waiting to come after me for keeping the links up,” and people “paying both sides of the aisle,” but stressed that “those were decisions we had to make.”

Other audience members commented about cars in the area that are stolen and “dumped:” If cars get stolen in unincorporated King County, rather than in a city like Burien, the criminals know that the jurisdictions are different and they just dump cars in other areas to avoid getting caught or drawing attention to themselves. Johanknecht said that her department “knows about the common places,” where stolen cars tend to be abandoned, and said that state and national databases definitely exist to help officers determine if particular vehicles have been stolen.

Another question: What are the best ways to find out about crimes in the area, and report them? Johanknecht mentioned crimereports.com as a good resource but said the system has been offline while a data-migration process happens, but she will notify the public as soon as that process is done.  For reporting crimes, she said that as a former communication center commander, she always tells people to “call 911 and report it, even if it’s just a shady-looking guy on the street” and the dispatchers will do their job. She said every 911 call generates a tracking number, then as it moves through the process there may be other numbers involved (like case numbers), but at any rate the number of calls helps her department with metrics and data and resourcing, so people shouldn’t hesitate to call. Another audience member expressed skepticism that criminals actually face consequences, asking the sheriff “how long does someone’s rap sheet have to be before you arrest them?” Johanknecht said the question was “largely rhetorical” but stressed that “I tell my people to go after bad guys and take them to jail,” although she acknowledged that only 10% of cases nationwide tend to actually go to trial, but her department will do what it can to help. She added that she recently went to Washington D.C. to meet with officials about their CAD-X system for computer-aided dispatch, and she has asked a WA state delegation to support adopting such a system to alleviate concerns about who to call and when. She also reminded attendees that 911 callers can report anonymously, or can report it by name but say that they don’t want to be contacted.

WHITE CENTER CRIME INFO: To conclude the meeting, White Center Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer (pictured below) provided a quick update on crime statistics and cases in the area. He said that year-over-year, violent crimes are down but property crimes are up. He noted that they just shut down an illegal marijuana shop near Hung Long Asian Market, prompting audience members to ask about how law enforcement can more actively crack down on places like this. Kennamer said it can be difficult, noting cases like the August raid of Todd’s Trading Post in White Center, and said that prior to that raid “we just couldn’t get in there.”

An audience member mentioned that a pedestrian had been struck by a vehicle on 108th, and Kennamer acknowledged that the person was “hit hard” in that case. On the subject of calling law enforcement for help with reporting a crime, Kennamer suggested being aware of where you are — if you know that you’re in unincorporated King County when you call, say “I need the county sheriff’s department,” but if you’re in Seattle then say “I need the Seattle police department,” but the important thing is to just call and not worry about it. Regarding graffiti in the area, Kennamer noted that there’s no ordinance against it, but that many residents have taken it upon themselves to clean it up. Regarding trouble spots in the area, Kennamer said the building on 110th/1st “with crappy trailers sitting around” was recently sold, and will become a “manufacturing plant for circuit boards on one floor, and an African restaurant on the other.” He also noted that a prior problem area with old abandoned cars at 108th/1st has been greatly improved. An audience member asked if law officers can help with issues involving boxes near houses that are in disrepair, and Kennamer said that “if it’s on the right-of-way, we can deal with it.”

Jerry Pionk from King County Local Services (along with colleague and community liaison Bong Sto. Domingo) put in a plug encouraging residents to contact asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov with questions or concerns, and to connect with the organization on social media.

NHUAC meets first Thursdays most months; watch nhuac.org for updates.

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